Odyssey Marine Exploration Expands Mineral Portfolio
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NASDAQ:OMEX), a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration, has acquired a 79.9% equity interest in Bismarck Mining Corporation (PNG) LTD (Bismarck) in exchange for 249,584 shares of Odyssey’s common stock.
Bismarck’s primary asset is an exclusive exploration license covering approximately 320 square kilometers of subsea area containing at least five prospective exploration targets in two different mineralization types: seamount-related epithermal and modern placer gold. In connection with the acquisition by Odyssey, Bismarck and the seller entered into a royalty agreement that provides for Bismarck to pay the seller a 2.496% net smelter royalty on minerals mined from the license area.
The license area is adjacent to Lihir Island in Papua New Guinea where one of the world’s largest known terrestrial gold deposits is currently being mined and processed by a major international mining company.
The deposit has significant strategic value to Odyssey and adds valuable diversification to the company’s mineral property portfolio. Previous exploration expeditions in the license area, including a survey conducted by Odyssey, indicate a polymetallic resource with commercially viable grade gold content likely exists. Additionally, the two subaqueous debris fields within the area and adjacent to the terrestrial Ladolam Gold Mine are believed to have originated from the same volcanogenic source that is currently being mined on Lihir.
Odyssey is immediately beginning to advance Bismarck’s exploration plan to validate and quantify the precious and base metal content of the prospective resource. The company is also planning environmental surveys and studies accruing to environmental permitting in compliance with Papua New Guinea requirements. Odyssey President and COO, John Longley, and an Odyssey advance team spent the past week in Papua New Guinea meeting with regulatory authorities and establishing baseline business functions essential for a successful program. The team also met with specialists in local mining and environmental law and logistics support service companies for upcoming marine operations in the license area.
“We are looking forward to applying Odyssey’s 20-plus years of deep ocean exploration experience to help Bismarck, PNG and Lihir understand the full potential of the resource and environment in the license area. Our meetings in October of last year and again last week reaffirm that PNG will be an excellent host to our operations. We look forward to working with their government agencies and businesses in a collaborative and transparent manner to realize the full benefit of the resource for not only the company but the country,” stated Mr. Longley.
This acquisition of the interest in Bismarck advances Odyssey’s business plan, which focuses on responsible development of subsea mineral assets to create and realize near-term and long-term value for the company, shareholders and host countries. The company is actively expanding its subsea mineral portfolio through development of new projects, acquisition of mineral rights and deposits, and through a leveraged contracting model that allows value to be realized in deep-sea mineral projects through the provision of our expert services.
These assets are being advanced up the value creation curve, which provides opportunities to monetize them through the sale of stakes in these individual assets at any stage of development. In the past, Odyssey sold off a percentage of their Mexican phosphate project for $27.5 million at an early stage of its development prior to the resource assessment. More recently, Odyssey announced an LOI to sell up to one third of the 15% equity that the company holds in an early stage mineral project for up to $5 million. This transaction values the balance of Odyssey’s remaining interest in this project at $10 million, although as required by GAAP, there is currently no value assigned to this asset on Odyssey’s balance sheet.
“In my previous communications, I’ve discussed our new business model, which includes the development of multi-billion-dollar assets through the discovery and development of valuable seafloor mineral deposits while being responsible stewards of the environment,” stated Mark Gordon, Odyssey Chairman and CEO. “This acquisition is an example of our successful execution of our business plan, and we are focused on adding other new subsea mineral deposits around the world to our expanding portfolio.
“We’ve been evaluating this project for some time and believe it will add significantly to Odyssey’s portfolio. Millions of dollars were invested in development and exploration of the license area by the previous owners. We’re pleased that the acquisition was achieved in a non-cash transaction. The expense and time involved in developing a similar property to this level would have far exceeded the cost of this transaction, and the modest dilutive impact is more than compensated by the potential returns from this project,” added Gordon.
About Odyssey Marine Exploration
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX) is engaged in deep-ocean exploration using innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to provide access to critical resources worldwide. Our core focus is the discovery, development and extraction of deep-ocean minerals. Odyssey also provides marine services for private clients and governments. For additional details, please visit www.odysseymarine.com.